As of December 31, 2014, I retired from full-time teaching in Humboldt State University's Department of History. While this website will remain online, it is no longer maintained.

History 110 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer

Reading Guide for
Confederates in the Attic

Directions: Below, you will find questions for each chapter that will help you think about the messages within Confederates in the Attic that will help you better understand the causes and long-term consequences of the Civl War, as the way the Civil War is remembered in some segments of contemporary Southern society.

Map of major civil war battles

Access this interactive map of Major Civil War Battles


Chapter 1:

  1. Who are the "Hardcores" and why does Horwitz refer to their beliefs as "fundamentalism?" Who are the "farbs" and why are the "Hardcores" critical of them?
  2. Who is Robert Lee Hodge and wha did you learn about the Civil War through his eyes?
  3. What were the "border states" during the Civil War? (See below for some assistance with this questions.)

    Map of border states during the Civil WarBorder States - After Fort Sumter, the northern-tier of the slaveholding states were still undecided about whether to secede - Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri.  These four states in the Upper South had: 2/3 of the Southís entire white population; 3/4 of the Southís industrial production; and over half of all its food and fuel.  Furthermore, each controlled vital assets:

    All four states decided to stay in the Union, but pro-Confederate sympathizers existed in each state and men fought for the Confederacy in all four.

Chapter 2:

  1. Why do you think the Confederate prisoner of war (POW) camps like Salisbury were so awful?
  2. Horowitz asks Tarlton why he thinks his Southern ancestors fought in the Civil War. What was his answer and why is his answer so important to understanding both the Civil War and this book?
  3. Describe your reaction to the "truths" taught to the Children of the Confederacy in their "Catechism."
  4. What is the Mason-Dixon Line? (see below for your answer)

Map of Mason Dixon LineMason and Dixon Line - Two different meanings of the term exist:  (1)  The original Mason-Dixon Line, as surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in 1763 to 1767, which is precisely defined and restricted to the Pennsylvania/Maryland border (which runs east-west) and that part of the Maryland/Delaware border which runs approximately north-south.  (2)  The meanings given to the term "Mason-Dixon Line", such as the border between the free states and the slave states in the first half of the eighteenth century, or the   border between the Union states and the Confederate states during the American Civil War.  

Chapter 3:

  1. What did you learn in Chapter 3 about life in and around Charleston for whites and slaves before the Civil War?
  2. In this chapter, you first learn about the Neo-Confederates. What are their views about the Civil War? Below is some general information about the Neo-Confederates, BUT this question focuses upon what you specifically learned in this chapter about the movement.

Neo-Confederate Movement - Neo-Confederates believe that with the Civil War, Lincoln was able to expand the power of the federal government beyond constitutional limits, and that with the defeat of the Confederacy the ideals of states' rights were defeated. They believe that the 14th Amendment was illegally adopted. To them this has resulted in the growth of federal government into a Leviathan, a very large monstrous beast in the bible.  The neo-Confederate historical worldview encompasses all of American history, not just the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the South. The American Revolution in particular has a prominent place. Neo-Confederate writings on the subject work to define original intentions to justify both current political beliefs and the actions of their historical heroes, such as secession. M.E. Bradford wrote several books on the American Revolution. In this historical view big government, integration and Brown vs. Brown, gay rights, civil rights, feminism, minorities, taxes, FDR, and other issues can be viewed as the result of the American Republic jumping the tracks during the Civil War and being out of control. The neo-Confederates seek to capitalize on discontent with these issues.  For an outstanding, contemporary understanding of the movement, see the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, "Rebels with a Cause," at http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=249

Chapter 4:Picture of confederate flag

  1. What did you learn in this chapter about the current controversies surrounding flying the Confeerate flag a public places?
  2. What did you learn about current racial isues in South Carolina in this chapter? How do you think these contemporary issues are related to the causes and consequences of the Civil War?
  3. What do you think is the Confederate flag really about - "heritage" or hate?

Chapter 5:

  1. What does "The Rebels" school mascot controversy tell you about the Southerns and the Civil War?
  2. Why do you think the Ku Klux Klan is still popular in Todd County, Tennessee?
  3. Wht does the story about Michael Westerman before, during, and after his shooting tell you about the effects of the Civil War on contemporary society?

Chapter 6:

  1. Why do you think there are less Yankee/Northern Civil War reenactors than there are Confederate/Southern reenactors?

Chapter 7:

  1. Who is Shelby Foote and why did Horwitz want to interview him?
  2. Who does Shelby Foote tlame for the racial problems that arose in the South after Reconstruction?
  3. Horwitz mentions the "Lost Cause." After reading the chapter and the explanation below, explain the Lost Cause Myth in your own words.

Following are the major beliefs of the Lost Cause advocates:

Following are the beliefs about the Lost Cause from revisionist historians:

Chapter 8:

  1. Horwitz learns that "Shiloh had two pasts: the actual battle, and its remembrance by those who fought there." What do you think this means?
  2. What sort of revisionist intepretations of the Civil War does Horwitz learn about in this chapter?

Chapter 9:Photograph of Richmond's Monument Avenue

  1. In this chapter, what did you find to be the most interesting topic related to the Civil War about Vicksburg, Mississippi?

Chapter 10:

  1. Horwitz describes the First and Second Manassas battles as well as a later contemporary battle. What was that battle and what does it tell you about America's memories of the Civil War?
  2. What did Horwitz learn about the Civil War during his "wargasm" with Robert Lee Hodge?
  3. What was the contemporary controversy around Richmond's Monument Avenue?
  4. How does Byrd define a "Confederate-American?" Do you agree that the Confederates only wanted to be left alone - that their decision to leave the Union was not about slavery? Explain your answer.

Chapter 11:

  1. What new information did you learn about the Neo-Confederates in this chapter?

Chapter 12:

  1. Horwitz wonders why many of the women he met in his travels "were so obsessed with the war's prisoners" - an obsession generally not shared by men. What did he learn?
  2. Why did the North stop prisoner exchanges with the South during the middle of the Civil War?
  3. Wha did you learn about Andersonville in this chapter? The information below provides background on Andersonville, but this question specifically asks what you learned from this chapter about the camp for prisoners of war.

Photograph of Andersonville POW campAndersonville - The  infamous Confederate prisoner of war camp for Union soldiers.   Located in south-central Georgia, construction began in December of 1863. Six-hundred prisoners from Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia arrived on February 24, 1864. On completion the walls formed a rectangle of rough hewn pine standing 15-20 feet in height and built on a sixteen and one-half acre tract intended to house no more than ten thousand prisoners. The prisoners were originally only to be held until they could be exchanged for Confederate prisoners held by the Union as an agreement then existed for such exchanges.  During the 14 months that Andersonville was in operation, it held slightly over 45,000 prisoners .The total number of dead was nearly 13,000.  Although death rates were high in other civil war prisons as well, none approached that of Andersonville.  For more information, see http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/Wirz/anders1.htm

Chapter 13: no questions

Chapter 14:

  1. After reading so far, do you agree with Roxie's statement to Horwtiz that in Southern society in general, "...we teach that slavery wasn't that big a deal in terms of causing the war."
  2. Did you find anything surprising about the classroom conversation between Horwitz, Rose Sanders, and her students during Horwitz's visit to Selma? How did that classroom experience compare and contrast with his experience with students in Greenville?

Chapter 15 and general concluding questions

  1. Horwitz writes that everywherehhe went in his journey, "People spoke of family and fortunes lost in the War; of their nostalgia for a time when the South seemed a cohesive region upholding Christian values and agrarian ways." Provide examples throughout the book to support this finding.
  2. Horwitz writes "For many southerners I'd met, remembrances of the War had become a talisman against modernity, an emoitional lever for their reactionary politics." Do you think he proves this point in his book? Provide specific examples of how he does nor does not.
  3. Do you agree with the Reenactors Horwitz meets throughout the book that they are "living historians?" Provide evidence from the book to support your answer.
  4. Using evidence from the book, why do you think the Civil War is still so alive and well in the South?
  5. Horwitz remarks in Chapter 10 "As so often on my journey, I was reminded that what I thought I knew about the War was based more on romance than fact." Explain why this is true with specific examples from the book.
  6. What does Horwitz means when he writes, "I'd...seen how poisonous and polarized memory of the past had become" during the course of his journey throughout the south?

Some general terms and names that might be helpful when reading the book:

Antebellem period - the period before the Civil War. 

Appamatox - This was the location of the signing of the final surrender by General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate States of America to General Ulysses S. Grant of the Union forces on May 23, 1865.

Clara Barton - Barton worked as a nurse for the Union Army throughout the war, and also went to Andersonville after the war to help release and tend to the prisoners held therein.  Known as the "Angel of the Battlefield," Barton's ministrations were quite successful.  After the War, she founded the American Red Cross.  For a good, but brief biography of Barton, see http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/6732/cb.html

Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) - Founded in the 1950s, this organization calls itself one of the true voices  of America's "far right."  Tony Horwitz has an interesting discussion with one of its statewide leaders on pages 78-80.  To see the CCC statement of purpose, click  here:  http://cofcc.org/?page_id=71

Hardtack - Hardtack is a cracker-like biscuit made of flour, salt and water and was one of the most typical rations issued to soldiers by the U. S. government because it was fairly nutritious and unlikely to spoil. This hard bread was made in government bakeries located in cities and shipped in barrels to the troops. Hardtack had to be tough to withstand the trip. Many Civil War soldiers complained about this ration noting the extreme hardness of the biscuits (sometimes called "teeth-dullers"), which at times had to be broken with a rifle "butt" or a "blow of the fist" to prepare for eating.  Soldiers sometimes softened the pieces by soaking them in coffee, frying them in bacon grease, or crumbling them in soup.  Hardtack could become infested with insects in the government storehouses or during the soldierís travels. One disappointed soldier claimed that "All the fresh meat we had came in the hard bread!"  To learn more about hardtack and to get a recipe, see http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Barracks/1369/recipes.html

Jim Crow - a broad term used to describe the laws passed after Reconstruction -  "Jim Crow" laws - that barred African Americans in the South from access to employment and to public places such as restaurants, hotels, and other facilities.   Jim Crow laws were largely in place from 1877 through the 1960s.  For a history of Jim Crow, see http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/

Johnny Reb - This is the nickname given to the rebel soldiers, the soldiers of the Confederacy.  Confederate soliders were known as rebels because they began the rebellion against the United States government and created their own government - the Confederate States of America (CSA).

Matthew Brady - born in about1823, Brady met the inventor Samuel Morse who taught him about the daguerreotype process. In 1844, Brady opened a gallery in Washington and began  taking the portraits of many famous Americans,  including Abraham Lincoln.   At the outbreak of the American Civil War, there was a dramatic increase in the demand for work at Brady's studios as soldiers wanted to be photographed in uniform before going to the front-line.  In July, 1861 Brady and Alfred Waud, an artist working for Harper's Weekly, travelled to the front-line and witnessed Bull Run, the first major battle of the war.  Soon after arriving back from the front Brady decided to make a photographic record of the American Civil War. He sent 23 trained men to take photos of all the battles.  During the War, Brady spent over $100,000 in obtaining 10,000 prints. He expected the government to buy the photographs when the war ended. When the government refused to do this,he was forced  into bankruptcy.  Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875 but he remained deeply in debt. Depressed by his financial situation, Matthew Brady became an alcoholic and died the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York on 15th January, 1896.   For a fantastic visual collection of Brady's photos, see any of the eight parts of the Ken Burn's video series, "The Civil War" - available at most video stores and for purchase on the Internet.  For a sampling of some of his Civil War photographs, see http://www.multimedialibrary.com/FramesML/IM11/IM11.html